Distraction, blocked view caused school bus rail crossing accident, officials say

Posted on June 20, 2014

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — An investigation report released on Tuesday by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) determined that a school bus driver involved in a collision with a freight train last year was unaware of the approaching train. As the driver proceeded from a stop onto a public passive level crossing, the bus was struck by the train.

On March 26, 2013, at about 3:15 p.m. Central Standard Time, CN freight train L50041-26 was proceeding eastward on the Lampman Subdivision when it struck a southbound school bus transporting seven elementary schoolchildren at the 4th Street East crossing in Carlyle, Saskatchewan. One child suffered minor injuries.

In accordance with provincial school bus regulations, the bus stopped at the stop sign located at the north side of the passive crossing before attempting to cross the tracks. However, the school bus driver did not open the door and did not see or hear the train as it sounded its horn.

The investigation determined that the driver was likely distracted by tasks associated with the road traffic and pedestrian activity in the vicinity of the crossing at the time of the accident. In addition, the school bus’ frame (A-pillar) and side mirror adjacent to the door obstructed the driver’s view and concealed the train when the driver looked for a train.

The TSB issued a Rail Safety Advisory Letter in June 2013, suggesting that Transport Canada (TC), in conjunction with provincial authorities, review the requirements for school buses when stopping at and traversing railway crossings. The letter also indicated that train horns do not consistently provide adequate warning to school buses that have doors and windows closed when stopped at railway crossings. In July 2013, TC responded that it had informed provincial authorities of the issue and was following up with them on provincial requirements for school buses when stopping at and traversing railway crossings.

The province of Saskatchewan will amend the School Bus Operating Regulations of its Traffic Safety Act to require the driver of a school bus to open the side door and driver side window when approaching a crossing that is not equipped with an automatic signal device. As well, Saskatchewan Government Insurance will develop and distribute information promoting school bus and rail safety to student transportation providers and will recommend that routine assessment of school bus routes be conducted in order to minimize the risk of railway crossing accidents.

Related Topics: railroad crossing

Comments ( 3 )
  • Dwight -- DSBSI Ltd.

     | about 4 years ago

    The opening of the entrance door & drivers side window also requires the driver to take time and not rush the crossing procedure. Additionally, trained students realize the importance of HUSH at the R/R Crossing. (A negative is the possibility of rain or snow blowing onto the inside of the windshield when operating under less than idle storm conditions. The visibility problem caused by the A-pillar is compounded by the one-piece style rear view mirrors. My requirement is the two piece "double nickel" design by Mirror-Lite, now Roscoe. The flat glass is fastened high on the bracket and the concave mirror is fastened low enabling the school bus driver a level unobstructed view between the mirrors on a class C conventional school bus.

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